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Chambers Of Commerce Lose Resident Trust And Support


The recent change election in Myrtle Beach highlighted the change in public opinion concerning our local Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce and how it stewards over $32 million in tax dollars.

While concerns in Myrtle Beach continue, residents of  Daytona Beach are raising the same concerns about their Convention Visitors Bereau because of a recent contract signed with local Myrtle Beach advertising agency Brandon Advertising.

More on this story at the bottom of our article.

We spoke on Skype with Skip Hoagland , who currently is in a S.C. Supreme Court case suing S.C. Chambers for more transparency in how they operate.  The trial is expected to go to court in less than 90 days.


Skip Hoagland said, “The Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce (MBACC) is a “for profit” media company disguised as a private non profit 501-C6 member business league.
It does not operate properly as a private chamber. It commingles public and private money. It unconstitutionally misuses tax funds and violates open record laws to both the public and its own members called the  Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)  and non profit corporation act. It violates Irs Ubi tax laws by selling ads and paying no taxes. Worse it, leverages tax funds to use for private profit purposes.


The City of Myrtle Beach is in violation of procurement laws. The city does not have a DMO contract with the MBACC for handing millions to this chamber with zero oversight, audits, and proven performance metrics.  This chamber is committing fraud and a tax scam.


In the age of the internet everything has changed. This chamber needs to get back to being a local chamber just serving its local members interest. The Atax funded DMO needs to be bid out to ad agencies. The apps and websites paid with tax funds need to be seized and become property of the City Of Myrtle Beach. They should be free and promote the community. MBACC should not sell ads to enrich the private pockets of Brad Dean’s 400k salary and what other pockets we don’t know about until a full investigation and forensic audit like Palm Beach Fl had,  and the recent FBI raid on the Berkeley County SC chamber and many more around the country.


We asked Skip when his S.C. Supreme Court FOIA case is expected to come to trial.  They say 2-3 months or more. If I lose this case for all tax payers of SC,this state is corrupt and filthy all the way to the top and the only chancefor taxpayer transparency will be federal agencies including the FBi, IRS, and the  DOJ .


This state is politically incestuously controlled and rotten to the core. The SC Supreme Court decision may be just another example.  The only way to clean it all up is with FBI investigations and mandatory forensic audits every 3 yrs on every agency in SC that controls, receives and issues tax money. Also, we should have no more hired, private financial audits by the MBACC’s heads.  All financial audits in the future must be totally independent.


I am calling for Myrtle Beach residents to form a community-based Forensic Auditing Committee (FAC). One of its primary tasks would be to ask critical questions ofMBACC. The reason for asking the questions is to determine quickly and easily whether board policies and practices are protecting and maximizing the tax resources effectively, efficiently, and ethically and that they are free from the ravishes of potential or actual corruption. Calling for the same for all non profits including School boards, City DMOs, Town managers, many state agencies like SC PRT and SC TERC.

DAYTONA BEACH — The Daytona Beach News Journal reports:  “Wide Open Fun,” a new tourism marketing slogan for Daytona Beach that has sparked significant negative reactions from area residents, was the result of a lengthy process involving “rigorous research in front of our target audience,” said Lori Campbell Baker, executive director of the Daytona Beach Area Convention & Visitors Bureau.“This is very important work to us and we take it very seriously,” said Baker in a meeting Wednesday with The News-Journal’s Editorial Board and other staff members to outline the process behind the selection of the catchphrase. The campaign is the brainchild of the Brandon Agency, a Myrtle Beach, South Carolina-based advertising firm that on Oct. 1 started a two-year contract with the CVB to market the area to potential visitors.The News-Journal’s reporting on the Wide Open Fun concept sparked an avalanche of criticism from readers, including hundreds of online comments and letters to the editor.

In the wake of that response, News-Journal staffers, including Editor Pat Rice and Publisher Bill Offill, met on Wednesday with a group from the CVB: Baker; Kay Galloway, director of marketing and design; Kate Holcomb, director of communications; and Libby Gallant, general manager of Perry’s Ocean Edge Resort in Daytona Beach Shores.

Gallant also is chair of the board of directors of the Halifax Area Advertising Authority, the board that funds and oversees the CVB. The HAAA is one of three tourism ad authorities in Volusia County supported by bed taxes collected by the county from local hotels, campgrounds and short-term vacation rental properties to promote the respective areas as destinations for tourism and special events.

When the HAAA board unanimously approved the new campaign theme on Nov. 14, the decision was based on responses from focus groups conducted in Miami, Orlando and Atlanta by Ormond Beach-based Mid-Florida Marketing & Research, Gallant said. Prior to the HAAA vote, the campaign also had been recommended by the board’s advertising committee, she said.

“We certainly consider the public and respect their opinions, but it’s a board decision,” Gallant said in The News-Journal meeting. She added that it’s possible the board will discuss the negative public reaction at its next meeting, slated for Jan. 21 at Residence Inn by Marriott, 3209 S. Atlantic Ave., Daytona Beach Shores.

“We have public meetings and this is open to public discussion,” Gallant said. “I personally am going to go with what the research tells me is right.”

Based on a contract with the HAAA board ratified in September, the ad agency will be paid $200,000 to produce and place ads using the new slogan in various media outlets for the campaign. The agency is paid a monthly retainer of $44,375 that includes media commission, coordination and analytics. Together, that represents an investment of $732,500 for the year-long campaign.

The Brandon Agency will be in Daytona Beach in mid-December to start producing ads for the campaign, Galloway said in Wednesday’s meeting. In addition to creating the campaign, much of the agency’s time and resources will be dedicated to tracking its success online throughout the year and making necessary adjustments to boost audience, Galloway said.

“Our job is to get them (potential visitors) at the beginning (of vacation planning) and drive traffic to the website” at daytonabeach.com, Galloway said. “Everything that we do points them to the website.”

Brandon started its research into the area before pitching its services, Baker said. No local advertising companies submitted applications during the open selection process for an ad agency, a search that emphasized specific experience in tourism marketing, Baker said.

While the notion of a locally generated contest to select a tourism slogan is fun, Baker said, ideas that resonate with area residents — such as the longtime fixture “World’s Most Famous Beach” — have less meaning to tourists with limited knowledge of the area, she said.

“Local residents are not our audience,” Baker said. “We’re looking for people to come from outside the area, to visit our attractions, support our businesses.”

Wide Open Fun is broad enough to be employed in an array of advertising, Baker said.

“The applications are so open,” Baker said. “It’s going to be a template for what we want to tell about the area.”




About David Hucks

Born in 1961, David is a 12th generation descendant of the area we now call Myrtle Beach, S.C. David attended Coastal Carolina University and like most of his family, has never left the area. David is the lead journalist at MyrtleBeachSC.com

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